• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Zard's S Tier Archetypes

Incidentally I spend far too much time playing computer games and yet I only just learnt what S meant by playing Bloodborne. And only then by looking it up online. That was in relationship to weapon scaling by stats and you had to search for it. 35 years of computer gaming. Never heard of S before.

What the heck games were you playing for 35 years that you never came across this? Like, seriously. I was familiar with it by, what, 1992? 1994? Something like that.

Did you just never play console games or something? Or never play Japanese games?

Basically almost any Japanese console game that gave any kind of letter ranking, from like, the late 1980s onwards (so yeah, about 35 years) has had S as the top ranking. That particularly includes racing games and fighting games, but also includes a ton of other stuff.

And on top of that, for fifteen plus years, gamers have discussed things as being in "tiers", and for most of that time, those tiers have typically been either numerical, or letters, and if letters, with S at the top. This isn't a new thing. If you've played any kind of competitive game with multiple characters to choose from, there will have been discussion of tiers - and very often that discussion involves the term S-tier. Sometimes it's substituted with "God tier".

It's certainly ubiquitous within certain genres of video games, so it is very surprising that you've missed it for so long. Even not playing those genres it would be surprising that you didn't see some attempted list involving it.

For an amusing take on this kind of Tier list, see TierZoo, where the channel rates animals in very much the same manner:
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Zardnaar

Legend
There is no particular reason why a Forge Cleric can't Magic Initiate shillelagh and be not-MAD.
But actually, a forge cleric does fine if they put ASIs in STR and leaves wisdom at 16. Post Tasha's your dwarven cleric can start with 17 in both wisdom and strength, and have both maxed by level 12.

True but nature clerics get it for free. Instead if arcane initiate they can take pole arm master or warcaster

Arcane clerics can also do that and potent cantrip is funny with Green Flame Blade.

Light clerics just use cantrips and don't bother with melee attacks. They take warcaster instead and wade into combat keying everything off wisdom.

Light has a better spell list, better class features, better chanel divinity than forge and is better at melee.
.they can cast a bonus action spell and follow it up with radiance of the dawn. Other clerics can only use a cantrip.

Without warcaster shillelagh gets tricky to cast for clerics as well.

Basically you skip using weapons hence why I think heavy armor and weapons asked clerics are a bit of a trap (exception higher ability scores/gauntlets of ogre power).

By level 8 that light cleric has 20 wisdom, warcaster if vuman and yeah.
 

For those people still interested in the origins of the S tier, I happened across this article earlier today that actually does a decent job of discussing the history of the term.

Note: Keep scrolling. The links in the middle of the article make it look really short, but it's longer than it first appears.

 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I tend to rate Life quite low. It simply has TOO MUCH healing. Unless things are going really badly and everyone is taking tons of damage is special shtick just isn't needed.
I see it the other way around - you will be throwing out some healing, and the Life cleric ability makes it so that you don't have to burn your big slots of healing. Leaving them for other purposes.
 

TheSword

Legend
What the heck games were you playing for 35 years that you never came across this? Like, seriously. I was familiar with it by, what, 1992? 1994? Something like that.

Did you just never play console games or something? Or never play Japanese games?

Basically almost any Japanese console game that gave any kind of letter ranking, from like, the late 1980s onwards (so yeah, about 35 years) has had S as the top ranking. That particularly includes racing games and fighting games, but also includes a ton of other stuff.

And on top of that, for fifteen plus years, gamers have discussed things as being in "tiers", and for most of that time, those tiers have typically been either numerical, or letters, and if letters, with S at the top. This isn't a new thing. If you've played any kind of competitive game with multiple characters to choose from, there will have been discussion of tiers - and very often that discussion involves the term S-tier. Sometimes it's substituted with "God tier".

It's certainly ubiquitous within certain genres of video games, so it is very surprising that you've missed it for so long. Even not playing those genres it would be surprising that you didn't see some attempted list involving it.
Well my PS4 currently has Assassins Creed Odyssey, Tomb Raider, Dad of War, FF7 remake, Witcher 3, loaded on it? Oh and Minecraft. My apologies playing these games doesn’t make a gamer enough. Perhaps “Japanese games with letter rankings” is too narrow a subject of expertise.

RPG tiers have always been colour coded as far as I have seen. But hey, by all means come up with your own. It’s a futile endeavor in any case.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Well my PS4 currently has Assassins Creed Odyssey, Tomb Raider, Dad of War, FF7 remake, Witcher 3, loaded on it? Oh and Minecraft. My apologies playing these games doesn’t make a gamer enough. Perhaps “Japanese games with letter rankings” is too narrow a subject of expertise.

RPG tiers have always been colour coded as far as I have seen. But hey, by all means come up with your own. It’s a futile endeavor in any case.

Colour code was mostly on the forums and it migrated here from the old WotC forums afaik.

Tier lists is what youtube does now across multiple genres.
 

True but nature clerics get it for free.
And if Nature clerics could create also magical weapons and armour for free and had a decent spell list the might not be the worst cleric subclass.
Arcane clerics can also do that and potent cantrip is funny with Green Flame Blade.

Light clerics just use cantrips and don't bother with melee attacks. They take warcaster instead and wade into combat keying everything off wisdom.
Both of those are better avoiding melee all together. Arcana is another candidate for worst cleric, since the easily duplicatable wizard cantrip access is the only thing they have going for them.

Light is great, but it doesn't work if you have an urge to play a retro-cleric.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Both of those are better avoiding melee all together. Arcana is another candidate for worst cleric, since the easily duplicatable wizard cantrip access is the only thing they have going for them.
Arcana is okay, but it's BEST feature doesn't come into play until 17th level. I would have liked to have seen a redesign of the Arcana Cleric much as the Bladesinger got.

Oh, and I forgot. The Peace Cleric is arguably also S Tier.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
And if Nature clerics could create also magical weapons and armour for free and had a decent spell list the might not be the worst cleric subclass.

Both of those are better avoiding melee all together. Arcana is another candidate for worst cleric, since the easily duplicatable wizard cantrip access is the only thing they have going for them.

Light is great, but it doesn't work if you have an urge to play a retro-cleric.

Wizard cantrip is funny with potent cantrip. That's not bad at will damage;). Aquire shillelagh via feat.
 

Arcana is okay, but it's BEST feature doesn't come into play until 17th level. I would have liked to have seen a redesign of the Arcana Cleric much as the Bladesinger got.

Oh, and I forgot. The Peace Cleric is arguably also S Tier.
Yeah, I'm inclined to disregard abilities of that level - I've never seen a character over 14th level in 5e. Arcana could definitely do with a revised spell list. Or a "swap this spell for a wizard spell of your choice of the same level" mechanic. Never really looked at Peace - unappealing theme.
 
Last edited:

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah, I'm inclined to disregard abilities of that level - I've never seen a character over 14th level in 5e. Never really looked at Peace - unappealing theme.

I've kinda liked peace since 2E Eldath SP and vow of non violence in 3E.

As long as they can make it work mechanically willing to look at it.
When I rate the classes I consider 1-10 mostly with an emphasis on 1-7.

Even if the class is better later that's to late and probably only makes up 10-20% of a campaign.

I suspect campaigns mostly wrap up by 10, online I know they do lol (90% done by lvl 10, 1% epic levels). Online 70% are lvl 1-7.

I doubt the numbers are drastically different irl. Explains 3E lasting (mostly casuals playing lvl 1-7) as well.
 


What the heck games were you playing for 35 years that you never came across this? Like, seriously. I was familiar with it by, what, 1992? 1994? Something like that.

I think your dates are a little on the early side. This (not necessarily exhaustive) list on Giant Bomb shows it first appearing in 1993 in the Fatal Fury games. After appearing in a handful of other Japanese titles it seems to have pretty abruptly become an order of magnitude or two more common in Japanese games around 1998 or '99. Western developed games seemed to have hopped on the bandwagon roughly a decade later.

It is possible that some games on the list did not necessarily preserve use of the S rank in all localizations (and that some games were excluded because those taging them for this list were not playing a localization that preserved them). Converting "grades" to the familiar local grading system seems like a pretty basic and superficial localization move.

The exact timeline is interesting to me personally as someone who played plenty of Nintendo in the 90s but checked out of console gaming completely when I left for college in the early 2000s. Having not happened to own any of the still relatively small number of titles featuring S-ranking from the tail end of my console gaming days I had no idea it was considered a familiar aspect of console gaming until this thread.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The tier analysis in 3.x/pathfinder was over a very broad swath of power. The difference between an optimised tier 1 character and a poorly designed tier 5 character was immense. Literally BMX Bandit vs Angel Summoner (if you aren't familiar with the concept, ).

In 5e the spread of power is far less (although it's slowly growing as the number of option increases), so perhaps this analysis is less important.

However, I think it's important to remember how it used to be done previously - it's not about "combat performance" (although that is definitely a portion). Rather it's a lot about the capacity of a character to help solve a complex problem. These three problems were:

A a dragon is harassing an area. You know it lives in a cave. Deal with hit.

B: a large city is going to be attacked in a week or so by a large army. Prepare the city for defense and then assist in its defence

C: you must infiltrate the city state of an enemy overlord, and make contact and gain the trust with the leader of the underground slave rebellion.

Damage per round matters sure, but....
 

A a dragon is harassing an area. You know it lives in a cave. Deal with hit.

B: a large city is going to be attacked in a week or so by a large army. Prepare the city for defense and then assist in its defence

C: you must infiltrate the city state of an enemy overlord, and make contact and gain the trust with the leader of the underground slave rebellion.
Where is

D: The Blurgs and the Zurgons are on the verge of war. Negotiate a peace treaty.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think your dates are a little on the early side. This (not necessarily exhaustive) list on Giant Bomb shows it first appearing in 1993 in the Fatal Fury games. After appearing in a handful of other Japanese titles it seems to have pretty abruptly become an order of magnitude or two more common in Japanese games around 1998 or '99. Western developed games seemed to have hopped on the bandwagon roughly a decade later.

It is possible that some games on the list did not necessarily preserve use of the S rank in all localizations (and that some games were excluded because those taging them for this list were not playing a localization that preserved them). Converting "grades" to the familiar local grading system seems like a pretty basic and superficial localization move.

The exact timeline is interesting to me personally as someone who played plenty of Nintendo in the 90s but checked out of console gaming completely when I left for college in the early 2000s. Having not happened to own any of the still relatively small number of titles featuring S-ranking from the tail end of my console gaming days I had no idea it was considered a familiar aspect of console gaming until this thread.
Cool list. Most of those I never got close to playing. With the exception of the Resident Evil games when it was just the end mission ranking... I always thought it meant S.T.A.R.S. The Police Special Ops lol. Though one game franchise out of 187 games explains why I never recognized it.
 

Well my PS4 currently has Assassins Creed Odyssey, Tomb Raider, Dad of War, FF7 remake, Witcher 3, loaded on it? Oh and Minecraft. My apologies playing these games doesn’t make a gamer enough. Perhaps “Japanese games with letter rankings” is too narrow a subject of expertise.

RPG tiers have always been colour coded as far as I have seen. But hey, by all means come up with your own. It’s a futile endeavor in any case.

Final Fantasy VII literally includes this tier system that you're trying to say doesn't exist - it uses it for Chocobo racing (no idea if remake does, I've been avoiding spoilers about it). Several other FF games include systems which use the F to S ranking system - FFIX and FFXV for example (the MMOs also do, but that's kind of a given).

Re: RPG tiers - nope, they haven't "always been" colour-coded. It's easy to prove, given the original 3.XE tier list was numerical (note this is a repost of a repost of something from the WotC forums, I forget when it was originally posted, but at least a couple of years before that).


I don't know when colours came in, but I first started seeing it in 4E. They're dominant in situations where you're ranking a very large number of things, because you don't have to put a letter or number next to something, or group under a letter or number, you can just write naturally and colourize stuff to quickly indicate value. That's a different approach - you don't normally rank things like entire classes that way.

I think your dates are a little on the early side.

I mean, that list is definitely very incomplete and the sudden burst of games using "s rank" in 1998/1999 is likely a result of the list being impacted by the fact that most of the people adding to it are of a certain age (early-mid 30s and younger). You can see this with GiantBomb lists in general - despite a lot of the writers being a little older, any game that came out in the later PSX era or after that is vastly more likely to be on a list than stuff from the SNES/Megadrive era. Also for whatever reason, stuff that came out on Nintendo consoles is vastly more likely to be covered, as is stuff that came out in the US. You can see they missed out FFVII, I note, perhaps that's because it's from a minigame, but it's more likely they just didn't know. But they also missed out FFIX, FFXIV and FFXV, where it's not as obscure. So I imagine they're missing most games which use it.

But I agree with the general timeline. Whilst I think we could probably dig up some games from before 1993 if we systematically went through SNES/Megadrive (maybe even NES/Sega Master System), and we could almost certainly dig out a lot more in the mid-1990s, it's clear that the system of F to S rank became more popular over the 1990s, before becoming very popular in the very late '90s and beyond. At this point, if you play any kind of retro-indie game that's emulating the style of 1990s-era games it's reasonably likely to use F to S ranks - Streets of Rage 4, for example (even though SoR 1/2/3 didn't have it AFAIK).
 
Last edited:

TheSword

Legend
Final Fantasy VII literally includes this tier system that you're trying to say doesn't exist - it uses it for Chocobo racing (no idea if remake does, I've been avoiding spoilers about it). Several other FF games include systems which use the F to S ranking system - FFIX and FFXV for example (the MMOs also do, but that's kind of a given).

Re: RPG tiers - nope, they haven't "always been" colour-coded. It's easy to prove, given the original 3.XE tier list was numerical (note this is a repost of a repost of something from the WotC forums, I forget when it was originally posted, but at least a couple of years before that).


I don't know when colours came in, but I first started seeing it in 4E. They're dominant in situations where you're ranking a very large number of things, because you don't have to put a letter or number next to something, or group under a letter or number, you can just write naturally and colourize stuff to quickly indicate value. That's a different approach - you don't normally rank things like entire classes that way.



I mean, that list is definitely very incomplete and the sudden burst of games using "s rank" in 1998/1999 is likely a result of the list being impacted by the fact that most of the people adding to it are of a certain age (early-mid 30s and younger). You can see this with GiantBomb lists in general - despite a lot of the writers being a little older, any game that came out in the later PSX era or after that is vastly more likely to be on a list than stuff from the SNES/Megadrive era. Also for whatever reason, stuff that came out on Nintendo consoles is vastly more likely to be covered, as is stuff that came out in the US. You can see they missed out FFVII, I note, perhaps that's because it's from a minigame, but it's more likely they just didn't know. But they also missed out FFIX, FFXIV and FFXV, where it's not as obscure. So I imagine they're missing most games which use it.

But I agree with the general timeline. Whilst I think we could probably dig up some games from before 1993 if we systematically went through SNES/Megadrive (maybe even NES/Sega Master System), and we could almost certainly dig out a lot more in the mid-1990s, it's clear that the system of F to S rank became more popular over the 1990s, before becoming very popular in the very late '90s and beyond. At this point, if you play any kind of retro-indie game that's emulating the style of 1990s-era games it's reasonably likely to use F to S ranks - Streets of Rage 4, for example (even though SoR 1/2/3 didn't have it AFAIK).
Very long post to say what? That I should have learnt about S ranks from the Chocobo racing mini-game that I only did to complete the story? The point was not that S ranks didn’t exist, but that I and other gamers weren’t familiar with the term... certainly not until Bloodborne with weapon rankings being integral to the system.

Treantmonks very famous guides used colour coding for 3e. Was the internet even around outside university libraries when AD&D was around?
 

The tier analysis in 3.x/pathfinder was over a very broad swath of power. The difference between an optimised tier 1 character and a poorly designed tier 5 character was immense. Literally BMX Bandit vs Angel Summoner (if you aren't familiar with the concept, ).

In 5e the spread of power is far less (although it's slowly growing as the number of option increases), so perhaps this analysis is less important.

However, I think it's important to remember how it used to be done previously - it's not about "combat performance" (although that is definitely a portion). Rather it's a lot about the capacity of a character to help solve a complex problem. These three problems were:

A a dragon is harassing an area. You know it lives in a cave. Deal with hit.

B: a large city is going to be attacked in a week or so by a large army. Prepare the city for defense and then assist in its defence

C: you must infiltrate the city state of an enemy overlord, and make contact and gain the trust with the leader of the underground slave rebellion.

Damage per round matters sure, but....

Agree that 5E has a much narrower range of power than 3.XE/PF, so it matters less in theory.

However, re: your example, generally if we're talking about a character's capacity to help solve a complex problem, as opposed to the capacity of a player to help solve a complex problem, then there is still some correlation with tier systems. Typically casters perform even better than their tier rating in that way, and non-casters significantly worse. Remember, talking about the character's capacity to solve problems, not the player. If anything, players of weaker/less effective classes often have to work harder to help, and are more likely to come up with the plans to solve big problems in my experience. But then often they have to be largely carried out by other PCs (esp. in earlier editions).

5E combat is intended to be somewhat balanced (well, significantly balanced by RPG standards), so power does matter there. But again not as much as 3.XE/PF.

Treantmonks very famous guides used colour coding for 3e. Was the internet even around outside university libraries when AD&D was around?

Is this a joke? You know AD&D lasted until 2000, right? And that the internet went huge around 1994? Amazon was founded in 1994 for goodness sake. That's the year Planescape came out!

I've been discussing RPGs online since 1993. Even before that people were discussing via more primitive/specific online communication methods, back into the 1980s. By the mid-1990s, it was extremely common to have internet access, and yeah, loads of us were discussing it. Suggesting "only university libraries" had the internet until 2000 is absolutely wild and makes me wonder when you were born, and if it was before 1990, where you spent the 1990s!? I mean, were you in silent meditation on a hilltop in Tibet or something?
 

TheSword

Legend
Agree that 5E has a much narrower range of power, so it matters less in theory.

However, re: your example, generally if we're talking about a character's capacity to help solve a complex problem, as opposed to the capacity of a player to help solve a complex problem, then there is still some correlation with tier systems. Typically casters perform even better than their tier rating in that way, and non-casters significantly worse. Remember, talking about the character's capacity to solve problems, not the player. If anything, players of weaker/less effective classes often have to work harder to help, and are more likely to come up with the plans to solve



Is this a joke? You know AD&D lasted until 2000, right? And that the internet went huge around 1994? Amazon was founded in 1994 for goodness sake. That's the year Planescape came out!

I've been discussing RPGs online since 1993. Even before that people were discussing via more primitive/specific online communication methods, back into the 1980s. By the mid-1990s, it was extremely common to have internet access, and yeah, loads of us were discussing it. Suggesting "only university libraries" had the internet until 2000 is absolutely wild and makes me wonder when you were born, and if it was before 1990, where you spent the 1990s!? I mean, were you in silent meditation on a hilltop in Tibet or something?
...It was a Joke... 🥸

... but way to staggeringly over-react.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top